Why you should adapt your podcast episodes into multiple formats

Jaclyn Schiff’s Podreacher helps podcasters convert their episodes into web articles.

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Out of all the different kinds of digital content creators, podcasters have the most difficult time growing their audience. Because most podcasts are listened to on mobile apps, they don’t go “viral” in the same way that an article or video can. Instead, they’re more reliant on old fashioned word of mouth, and audience growth is often slow and linear.

One reason that so many podcasters struggle to expand their listener base is because they don’t do enough to adapt their episodes for multiple platforms. The savviest hosts will chop up their episodes and distribute clips across social platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Some even film their in-studio recordings so there’s a video version they can then upload to YouTube.

One of the best ways to speed up audience growth is to convert your episodes into articles. That’s what the company Podreacher specializes in. I recently interviewed its founder Jaclyn Schiff about how she decided to dive into this very niche form of content marketing and the role these articles can play in speeding up a podcast’s audience growth.  

Can you tell me about the lightbulb moment where you realized there was a market opportunity to take podcast episodes and create article versions for the web?

I was actively looking for a business idea and was thinking about something targeting the podcast industry. At the time, I was doing communications consulting work, which included content creation for clients. In most cases, the foundation of the content was an interview -- sometimes one and sometimes multiple.

With my journalism background, I gravitate towards doing interviews as a part of the research process when writing.

While creating this content, I was also looking at what some of the most successful podcasters were doing to market their shows. Repurposing was a common denominator. A few of them were creating valuable and interesting blog posts based on their podcast interviews. A lot of podcasters consider a transcript standard as part of post production -- but few were taking the time to do something with that transcript. Between thinking about my own work process for clients and what it takes to turn an interview into a valuable piece of content and realizing that some top podcasters were already doing that to expand their discovery, I thought: There might be a business idea here.

What’s the downside of only producing very basic “show notes,” which is what most podcasters do now?

I don't think there's a downside exactly. I just think there's a bit of confusion about what they do and their potential.

"Show notes," by which I mean content that appears on a podcast's episode page as well as in the podcast app, are seen as a "need to have." It's almost in the same category as adding your podcast to all the different apps and directories -- it's part of what you do when creating a podcast.

The thing is that few podcasters think through the strategy with show notes. It's understandable because creating a podcast is a ton of work. So usually, they're an afterthought and not done very well. They’re also usually short. Both the quality and length make it hard for show notes to get significant SEO benefits.

At best, they're a missed opportunity. At worst, they're a poor reflection of your brand. I like this analogy when thinking about the role of show notes:

Podcast show notes are like the entryway to your house.

It serves a specific function, but critical activities (eating, sleeping, hanging out) don't take place there.

It sets expectations. While it's not the most important place in your home, it says a lot if you treat it as an afterthought.

Would you say there's also a missed opportunity to expose your brand and content to people who aren't avid podcast listeners who might still want to read your content instead?

Definitely. Anyone who is smart about marketing in 2020 knows that it's important to deliver content in multiple formats and wherever your audience might be.

You mentioned missed SEO benefits. What are the SEO opportunities that are being lost by podcasters not producing article versions of their podcasts?

It's highly unlikely that a show notes page with 300 words or so is going to rank well on SERPs.

Most podcasters are focused on getting into New and Noteworthy on Apple Podcasts and discovery through apps and other shows. That's definitely a great first place to concentrate on, but there are lots of ways for people to discover your content -- Google is a big one. It's a massive discovery channel that is often neglected by podcasters. Without high-value text on the podcast website, you can't fully harness the power of SEO. That's what I mean when I say it's a missed opportunity, and it's a big thing that top podcasters are doing. They're grabbing listeners wherever they can -- whether that's by being a guest on another show, through Instagram, or through content that is shared from their podcast website.

The shareable factor is another thing that text is great for. I can't skim an audio player. But I can quickly glance at an article and get a sense for the content. Which makes sharing easier -- if I see something in text that a friend or colleague should know about, I pass it along. It's not that you can't do that with a podcast episode, but there's less friction with text.

What are the various services your agency offers podcasters and how are they priced differently?

Until just a few months ago, we mainly focused on turning podcast episodes into blog posts. We did a few ebook and longfrom projects here and there.

Now we're leaning into show notes.

Typically we either work with a podcast on turning episodes into blog content or producing show notes. The content writing starts at $270/post (for shorter episodes) and show notes start at $70/episode.

Do your offerings include making a transcript of the entire episode or just pulling in the key insights and crafting them into an article?

Internally we use AI-generated transcripts, which help us with pulling quotes. But we don't provide cleaned up transcripts to clients. There are various services that offer this with fast, accurate turnaround and it's not efficient for us to do that in-house. So if clients want "clean" transcripts, I'll happily share service providers with them.

We've done some edited Q&As, which aren't a straight transcript and involve quite a bit of editing.

Tell me about your process once a client hires you? How do you go about converting a podcast episode into an article?

There are four main steps. We assign the project and match the podcast with a writer who has some experience/familiarity with the subject matter.

At this point, we're thinking about where content will live. Some clients like to use this as contributed content or something they might post to Medium or LinkedIn. We're conscious of that early on because that will affect how we write it.

The writer actively listens to the full episode with the transcript in hand. Next is the writing step where the writer will take what they've listened to and organize and structure it.

People are always surprised when I say this, but typically we end up using only about 40% of the content of an interview. We focus in on the most noteworthy information for the audience.

The final step is when we edit and refine. Editing is essential for good content. I've rarely come across something that hasn't benefited from a 2nd look.

At this point in the process, we also look for keyword and positioning opportunities. Are there ways to make this stand out for search engines and, most importantly, for humans?

We've turned more than 500 episodes into blog posts/articles and we're continually tweaking our process.

Tell me about client feedback once you started publishing articles. What did they tell you in terms of how the articles increased their web traffic and whether that converted into more listeners?

Most clients start to see an increase in web traffic after about 3-4 months. For those that haven't been creating a lot of text, the increase can be pretty significant. This is how content marketing works: If you regularly publish high-quality content, you'll see your traffic go up. For clients that have been producing a lot of content, the increase can be smaller.

But a lot of people who do this also find that guests tend to share the articles more than just a podcast episode. There's just something about seeing your name "in print."

It's more difficult to quantify how many people discover an article and then listen to a podcast or become a subscriber of that show. Most of the podcasts we work with are using podcasting for brand awareness. They care about subscriber and download numbers, but it's one of many metrics they measure.

The value in creating articles is that it's an easy way to scale their content output and gives them another touchpoint with a guest. I've been thinking about it this way: More content = more conversation.

If you're hyperfocused on subscriber numbers, our approach probably isn't the thing for you. It's not a magic bullet and it won't grow your listenership overnight.

How did you find your initial clients?

Cold outreach and my network.

One of my first clients ever was a podcast that interviewed entrepreneurs in Chicago. I'd been to their events and listened to the podcast, and I was on the email list.

I responded to one of the marketing emails and asked if they'd be interested in turning some episodes into articles. We did a test, they loved it and we ended up working together for quite a while.

Did you like this article?

It’s actually excerpted from an ebook of case studies titled “The Next Media Moguls, Volume 1: Lessons from 10 successful media entrepreneurs and executives.” You can download the PDF over here.

Simon Owens is a tech and media journalist living in Washington, DC. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn. Email him at simonowens@gmail.com. For a full bio, go here.

Creative Commons image via Needpix